Judo history is made: Austria on top, and a first ever gold for Puerto Rico

Day two of the Upper Austria Grand Prix saw an exciting day of Judo in the TipsArena Linz.

As the event in Upper Austria was officially opened, Sabrina Filzmoser’s career came to a close on a high. An emotional crowd bid her farewell as she was awarded her 6th dan and received a standing ovation.

Filzmoser – a true star of Austrian Judo – then joined her team to give back to the masses of young fans who had come to meet their heroes.

Then all eyes turned to the tatami. The crowd couldn’t contain their excitement for another day’s epic judo, and neither could Tatsukawa Momo as she won the all-Japanese -63kg final. 

Her celebrations were shared with the young fans in attendance. Upper Austria Minister of Sports Mr Markus Achleitner was on hand to award the medals.

At -73kg Israel’s Tohar Butbul won a gruelling final – his first gold in four years. He was awarded his medals by IJF Head Sport Director Mr Vladimir Barta.

At -70kg Puerto Rico’s María Pérez had the day of her life, with fantastic judo all the way to the final. 

It makes me feel like I’m home, it makes me feel strong, it makes me feel happy, so thank you Austria for this special moment.

María Pérez
Puerto Rican judoka

There she took on Kelly Petersen Pollard of Great Britain, and Pérez made history by taking her and her country’s first-ever world judo tour gold. Sparking celebrations galore on a historic day. She was awarded her medal by IJF Vice President Dr Laszlo Toth.

“I think judo is a very, very special sport, and I like it when people are shouting for you, for different countries,” María Pérez said.

“It makes me feel like I’m home, it makes me feel strong, it makes me feel happy, so thank you Austria for this special moment.”

At -81kg, Shamil Borchashvili came out for the home nation. And when the contest ended in his favour, the TipsArena erupted. 

The crowd got exactly what they came for – a home gold, the perfect way to end the second day of Austria’s first world tour event.

The medals were awarded by Upper Austria Governor Mr Thomas Stelzer.

“To compete here at a home Grand Prix, and now the gold medal, it gives me a lot,” said Shamil Borchashvili.

“You know my family is here, my friends are here, the home club, and all the Judoka, the future champions are also here, and to win in front of them is unbelievable,” he added.

It wasn’t just Borchashvili on form, as Team Austria put on a great performance for the fans, giving them spectacular ippons and unforgettable memories of their day out in beautiful Upper Austria.

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